Should we take the camera to the Easter egg hunt? It’s the question my wife asks me every year, just minutes before we leave for our church’s annual Easter egg hunt. And I always answer Yes.
But this year when she asked me that same question, I said No. Then I hurried to the car before she could give me the look that she’s famous for and which I try my best to avoid at all costs.
I didn’t say No because it would be one more thing to keep track of, which would have been a good excuse. And not because I worried that my toddler would get a hold of it with his peanut-buttery slobber fingers that he touches expensive things with. That also would have been a great reason.
I said No because I’m tired of seeing life through a 4 inch screen.
Every year the same thing happens. My boys, along with hundreds of other candy-obsessed little children, line up on the sidewalk next to a field littered with plastic eggs, as we wait on our pastor to turn off the music, turn on the squeaky microphone, and yell On your mark, get set, go!
And every year at that moment I run after them, trying to take pictures on my DSLR camera with my right hand, take a video on my Flip cam with my left hand, and keep the boys inside the frame on both all the while dancing around plastic eggs on the ground that other kids haven’t picked up yet so I don’t step on them, break them, and make anyone cry. I’ve become quite good at it.
The problem is, by concentrating so hard to capture the moment, I miss the moment.
Sure I go back later to see the pictures and watch the videos, like a grandparent across the country might do on Facebook. But I don’t remember the event. I was there, but I wasn’t really there.
The paradox is that the best memories are rarely captured on a device.
I’ll never forget the moment I proposed to my wife and the look on her face when she said Yes as I knelt on bended knee under the Navy Pier fireworks in Chicago.
Or the moment my kids were born and we got to see these little ones we loved but hadn’t met yet.
Or my parent’s smile when I finally found them in the crowd after my college graduation.
I would never trade those memories for anything.
But that’s what we do when we focus on capturing the moment instead of living the moment.
Now, Missy did ask me again to take some pictures once we got there. I used my iPhone to get a few great shots of the boys at the beginning of the hunt.
Then I put the phone in my pocket and enjoyed seeing my boys have fun.
Not through a 4 inch screen, but in real life. I got to truly see the joy in finding a silly plastic egg and laugh every time they bent down to pick up another one while their already overflowing basket emptied out. I enjoyed it the way the kids’ grandparents would have rather experienced it, instead of through a video that they would only be able to like and comment on through Facebook.
I was there. And I was there.
And out of all of the Easter egg hunts we’ve gone to with the boys, this is the one I’ll remember.